Smit, Leo

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Smit, Leo

Smit, Leo , American pianist, teacher, and composer; b. Philadelphia, Jan. 12, 1921; d. Encinitas, Calif., Dec. 12, 1999. He studied piano with Vengerova at the Curtis Inst. of Music in Philadelphia (1930–32), and took lessons in composition with Nabokov (1935). He made his debut as a pianist at Carnegie Hall in N.Y. in 1939, and then made tours of the U.S. He also taught at Sarah Lawrence Coll. (1947–49), at the Univ. of Calif, at Los Angeles (1957–63), and at the State Univ. of N.Y. at Buffalo (1962–98). He likewise served as director of the Monday Evening Concerts in Los Angeles (1957–63) and as composer-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome (1972–73) and at Brevard Music Center (1980). His style of composition was neo-Classical, marked by a strong contrapuntal fabric; the influence of Stravinsky, with whom he had personal contact, was pronounced in many of his scores.


DRAMATIC: Opera: The Alchemy of Love (1969); Magic Water (1978). melodrama: A Mountain Eulogy (1975). Ballet: Yerma (1946); Virginia Sampler (N.Y., March 4, 1947; rev. 1960). ORCH.: The Parcae, overture (Boston, Oct. 16, 1953); 3 syms.: No. 1 (1956; Boston, Feb. 1, 1957), No. 2 (1965), and No. 3 (1981); Capriccio for Strings (Ojai, Calif., May 23, 1958; rev. 1974); Piano Concerto (1968; rev. 1980); 4 Kookaburra Marches for Orch. and Tape (1972); Symphony of Dances and Songs (1981); Variations for Piano and Orch. (1981); Alabaster Chambers for Strings (1989). CHAMBER: Sextet for Clarinet, Bassoon, and Strings (1940); Invention for Clarinet and Piano (1943); In Woods for Oboe, Harp, and Percussion (1978); Delaunay Pochoirs, 3 pieces for Cello and Piano (1980); Sonata for Solo Cello (1982); Flute of Wonder, 3 pieces for Flute and Piano (1983); Tzadik for Saxophone Quartet (1983), 12 Instruments (1984), String Quartet (1984), and Piano Trio (1985); Exequy for String Trio (1985); piano pieces, including a Sonata for Piano, 4-Hands (1987). VOCAL: A Choir of Starlings for 4 Soloists, 2 Oboes, Bassoon, 2 Horns, and String Quintet, after A. Hecht (1951); Academic Graffiti for Voice, Clarinet, Cello, Piano, and Percussion, after Auden (1959); Caedmon (After the Venerable Bede) for Soloists, Chorus, and Orch. (1972); Copernicus—Narrative and Credo for Narrator, Chorus, and Instrumental Ensemble (1973); From Banja Luka for Mezzo-soprano and Orch. (1987); many songs.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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